July/August 2013 EBJ (Issue 78) - It all started for me when I was a young boy. I remember Grandpa’s stories of traveling to Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and even British Columbia every fall with two or three of his closest friends on another adventure. It sounded like heaven, hunting for mule deer, elk, mountain goat, and Bighorn sheep. Most were DIY hunts, some guided; all were fair chase western style hunts during the heyday of hunting. Grandpa would tell his amazing stories and I would sit and listen for hours, staring at his old time photos and his huge mounts on the wall. I knew then I was born to be a hunter.
By many people’s standards, most of my 26 hunting seasons were successful. I harvested many mule deer bucks and bull elk with both bow and rifle, though none of my previous trophies were big by grandpa’s standards.
Don’t get me wrong, he was very proud of me and all of his grandsons, but we grew up after the heyday of the 60s and 70s. The last 25 years has required a lot more diligence, luck, time, and money to be successful harvesting trophy animals compared to the days of old.
Everything came together on my late season archery hunt for big mulie bucks. One of my best friends and one of the only trusted hunting companions willing to endure months of training and all the rigors of trophy deer hunting, Jason Foruria, was along with me.
The two of us have hunted together over 20 years now. We always start scouting in July for early backcountry rifle and bow hunts. We have managed to acquire Swarovski and Zeiss optics over the years on a lower-middle-class working man’s budget. Between the two of us, we have spent thousands of hours on the hill.
All that being said, it was still such a shock when I finally laid eyes on this buck. The first day had only produced a few small to medium-sized four points with does, but no shooters. Day two was going much the same way.
Around 2:00 in the afternoon I was coming back around the face of the peak to an area I had glassed at daylight. I sat down to set up for another glassing session and only saw the same 4-point with 11 does I had seen earlier. Everything I was seeing, approximately 50 deer, each in their respective brush pockets, rock slides, and bedding areas was still there.
But wait, what was that lying under that brush thicket? At first glance I just figured it was one of the bucks I had seen earlier but there was something different about him. His outline was bigger and I guess maybe I had a gut feeling to ride this one out.
Then it happened. The buck stood up and my heart felt like it jumped into my throat. Wow, what a buck! He had a massive 4-point frame and a few cheaters going this way and that. Then he ran a few small bucks out of his bedding area, showing he was king of this drainage, and bedded back down. This old monarch had lived possibly eight or nine years, surviving approximately 20+ different hunting seasons to sharpen his already keen instincts.
For a full account of Craig's adventure, go to page 16 in the July/August 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.